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By Trish Wilman

Action / Drama

Chapter 1

Prologue- Present Day

Pacing the small waiting room, impatiently waiting for news about his senior agent, Gibbs was unable to shake the vivid memories of what had happened only an hour before. He barely had time to shout a desperate warning to Tony to watch out as he watched in horror as the car sped in Tony’s direction, giving the NCIS agent little time to dive out of its deadly path. Even now, Gibbs knew that it was going to be a long time before he would be able to forget the horrible thump as the car slammed into Tony, throwing the younger agent violently into the air as it struck him, nor would he forget the sight of Tony’s body as Tony slammed hard onto the pavement and rolled like a rag doll across the road before stopping face down in the gutter. Gibbs shivered unconsciously as he remembered his fingers trembling as he pressed them into the side of DiNozzo’s neck as he desperately searched for a pulse….

He stopped his pacing and turned expectantly towards the door as the door opened and Ducky entered the room, holding a Styrofoam cup in his hand. “How is he, Duck?” he demanded as Ducky slowly crossed the room to where he was waiting.

“He has a broken leg, two broken ribs and a moderate concussion, Jethro, but considering just how fast the car was going when it hit him, young Anthony is extremely lucky that his injuries are not more severe. The doctors are just setting his leg before they transfer him to a room” The Medical Examiner told the anxious man as he handed Gibbs the steaming cup of coffee before he added softly, “You know what happened to Tony today was not your fault, Jethro.”

“Ya think, Ducky?” Gibbs growled as he glared at his friend, “I knew that something was going on with DiNozzo …”

“And you tried to find out what it was.” Ducky reminded him firmly.

“But I didn’t, I let it drop when I realized whatever was going on in DiNozzo’s life, he didn’t trust me enough to tell me.” Slamming the cup down on the table, ignoring the hot liquid as it splashed over his hand, Gibbs sighed, “And today, Duck, those secrets DiNozzo is trying to hide from me almost got him killed.”

24 Hours Earlier

“McGee, do something about those damn reporters.” Gibbs ordered gruffly as he waved towards the group of reporters and their cameramen standing under the bright spotlights behind the police tape shouting out questions and demanding answers from anyone within the crime scene unlucky enough to walk close to them.

“You want me to move them on, Boss?” McGee asked, flustered.

“No McGee, I want you to ask them all out on a date.” Gibbs glared at his newest agent, “What do ya think I mean?”

“On… on it, Boss.” McGee stammered before he hurried across to reporters.

Tony looked up from the sketch of the scene he was working on and grinned as he watched the probie hurry across to attempt to disperse the reporters and the crime scene rubberneckers who intermingled with them. His grin faded and he felt a cold chill ripple through his soul as he saw a familiar face in the crowd, watching him.

“DiNozzo!” Tony jumped in surprise as he heard the lead agent’s annoyed shout and turned to look at Gibbs as Gibbs asked, “What the Hell are you doing, DiNozzo?

“Sketching the scene, Boss.” Tony answered, almost dropping his sketchpad.

“Then why aren’t you sketching?” Gibbs demanded.

“Sketching now, Boss.” Tony replied as he quickly looked back down at the pad and began to finish the half drawn sketch of the scene, before casting another furtive glance towards the crowd still milling beyond the tape. His pencil hovered above the page as he searched the sea of faces for the face he was looking for, unsure whether to be worried or relieved not to see the face he was looking for. He yelped as he felt a hard slap to the back of his head and turned to find himself staring into the very angry and annoyed eyes of his boss.

“The crime scene is in that direction, DiNozzo!” Gibbs growled softly, canting his head towards where Ducky was kneeling next to the body slumped against the overflowing dumpster

“The crime scene is in this direction.” Tony gingerly rubbed the back of his head as he turned away from the small crowd, “Got it, Boss.”

Gibbs turned and walked back to where Ducky was examining the dead young sailor. Crouching down beside the medical examiner, the lead NCIS agent asked, “What have we got Ducky?”

“Our young friend here was killed by a single shot to the head at close range, he was looking directly at his killer and down the barrel of the gun when he was shot.” Ducky said softly as he pointed towards the black speckling surrounding the wound before he removed the liver thermometer and glanced at the reading. “The poor boy has not been here long, Jethro, given the lack of rigidity and liver temp, I would estimate time of death about two to three hours ago.”

“There’s no bullet casings.” Gibbs observed as he rose to his feet and looked around carefully, turning on his flashlight before carefully studying the lid of the dumpster that rested against the building’s brick wall. He frowned as he saw the small, jagged hole almost hidden by the victim’s blood, bone and brain matter. He slowly walked around to the back of the dumpster, carefully closing the lid and checking the wall before he crouched down and began to search the two feet of ground between the dumpster and the wall. A small glint caught his eye and he called to Kate to photograph and tag the bloody, mangled piece remains of a bullet.

Rising to his feet to move out of Kate’s way, he glanced towards Tony. Tony was once again staring at the crowd. Ducky looked up as he growled in annoyance and yelled, “DiNozzo!” He saw the younger man jump and turn towards him as he walked towards him. “What the Hell are you doing?”

“Ummm… just finished sketching the scene, Boss.” Tony answered as he quickly closed his sketch book.

“Then go and help Kate bag and tag.” Gibbs ordered softly, watching as Tony nodded and hurried away before he glanced towards the thinning crowd of media and onlookers in an attempt to see the pretty face that had caught his senior agent’s attention. He frowned in confusion, glancing back at Tony who was now busy bagging evidence, whoever had held DiNozzo’s attention had obviously left. He shook his head as cast another glance towards the crowd before he turned back towards the crime scene.

“The victim’s name is Chief Petty Officer Ryan Jameson, he was serving on the USS Braverley, currently docked in port. I spoke with his commanding officer who wasn’t too happy when I woke him up and got him out of bed. He said the Jameson was currently on one week’s shore leave. He was due to report back to the ship in two days.” Tony yawned as the image of the dead Chief Petty Officer flashed up on the screen before he continued, “Twenty four years old, not married, parents died several years ago in a car accident, no brothers and sisters. Been in the Navy for the last six years. His commanding officer says he was a bit of a loner, no disciplinary problems, kept to himself when not on duty.”

“Do we know where he was staying while on shore leave?” Gibbs asked, taking a sip of his coffee.

“We found a room key for the Hotel Monaco in his pocket, Room 103.” Kate answered as she tiredly rubbed the back of her neck.

“What about witnesses?” Gibbs demanded, looking at McGee.

“ one saw anything, Boss.” Tim started hesitantly before rushing on, “The security guard found the body while making his first round of the night.”

“It’s a deserted area,” Tony added, stifling another yawn as he hit a few keys on his keyboard and the image of the young dead sailor was replaced with a map of warehouses where the body had been found. “Several of the warehouses were abandoned several years ago. Been trying to check what companies still have warehouses there but it’s going to take some more digging.” He finished, yawning again.

Looking at his exhausted team, Gibbs sighed, “Go home, get some sleep, I want you all back here by 0600 hours not a minute later. We have a murder to solve.”

“0600 hours, Boss, got ya.” Tony grinned grabbing his bag as Kate and Tim grabbed their belongings.

Gibbs nodded before he took another sip of his coffee to cover the small smile of amusement that tugged his lips as he watched the three agents almost run to the elevator in their rush to leave.

Opening his apartment door, Tony tiredly flicked on the lights and froze, staring at the man sitting on his sofa.

“Hello, Anthony.” The older man smiled, taking a sip from the glass of bourbon he held in his hand, before he added almost as an afterthought, “The manager let me in after I explained to him who I was. I didn’t think you would mind.”

“What are you doing here?” Tony demanded as he entered the room slowly, shrugging the backpack from his shoulder.

Lowering the glass, the man stared at the pieces of ice clinking together as he slowly swirled the glass before he reluctantly looked up at the young man who was waiting for an answer. He sighed, seeing the distrust and distance in his son’s eyes as he quietly admitted, “I’m in trouble, Junior. Serious trouble. I need your help.”

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